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The Indians form the last order' of citizens.
The Indians form the last, and the most depressed order of men in the country, which belonged to their ancestors. I have alrealy traced the progress of the Spanish ideas with refpect to the condition and treatment of that people, and have mentioned the most important of their more early regulations, concerning a matter of so much consequence in the adminiftration of their new dominions. But since the period to which I have brought down the history of America, the information and experience acquired during two centuries, have enabled the court of Spain to make such improvements in this part of its American fyftem, that a short view of the prefent condition of the Indians may prove both curious and interesting.
Their present condition.
By the famous regulations of Charles V. in 1542, which have been fo often mentioned, the high pretensions of the conquerors of the New World, who considered its inhabitants as flaves, to whose service they had acquired a full right of property, were finally abrogated. From that period, the Indians have been reputed freemen, and entitled to the privileges of subjects. When admitted into this rank, it was deemed juft, that they should contribute towards the support and improvement of the
society which had adopted them as members. But as no considerable benefit could be expected from the voluntary efforts of men unacquainted with regular industry, and averse to labour, the court of Spain found it necessary to fix and secure, by proper regulations, what it thought reasonable to exact from them.
Tax imposed on them. With this view, an annual tax was imposa ed upon every male, from the age of eighteen to fifty; and at the same time, the nature as well as the extent of the services which they might be required to perform, were ascertained with precision. This tribute varies in different provinces; but if we take that paid in New Spain as a medium, its annual amount is nearly. four shillings a head; no exorbitant fum in count tries where, as at the source of wealth, the value of money is extremely low. o) The right of levying it likewise varies. In America , every Indian is either an immediate vafsal of the crown, or depends upon some subject to whom the diftrict, in which he resides', has been granted for a limited time, under the denomination of an encomienda. In the former cafe, about three fourths of the tax is paid into the royal treasury; in the latter, the same proportion of it belongs to the holder of the grant. When Spain
:o) See NOTE LI. Recopil. lib. yi. tit. v. 1., 43. Hackluyt,
vol, iii. p. 401.
first took poffeffion of America, the greater part of it was parcelled out among its conquerors, or those who first settled there, and but a small portion reserved for the crown.
As those grants which were made for two lives only, p) reverted fucceffively to the sovereign, he had it in his power either to diffuse his favours by grants to new proprietors, or to augment his own revenue by valuable annexations. 9) Of these, the latter has been frequently chosen; the number of Indians now depending immediately on the crown, is much greater than in the first age after the conquest, and this branch of the royal revenue continues to extend.
The l'eryices demanded.
The benefit arising from the services of the Indians accrues either to the crown,
or to the holder of the encomienda, according to the same rule observed in the payment of tribute. Those services however, which can now be legally exacted, are very different from the servile tasks originally imposed upon the Indians. The nature of the work which they must perform is defined, and an equitable recompence is granted for their labour. The stated services demanded of the Indians, may be divided into two bran
p) Recopil. lib. vi. tit. viii, h. 48. Solorz. de Ind. jạre, lib.
ii. c. 1o.
9) See NOTE LII.
ches. They are either employed in works of primary necefsity, without which fociety cannot fubfift comfortably, or are compelled to labour in the mines, from which the Spanish colonies derive their chief value and importance. In consequence of the former, they are obliged to assist in the culture of maize, and other grain of necessary consumption; in tending cattle; in erecting edifices of publick utility; in building bridges; and in forming high roads; r) but they cannot be constrained to labour in raifing vines, olives, and sugar-canes, or any fpecies of cultivation, which has for its object the gratification of luxury, or commercial profit. s) In consequence of the latter, the Indians are compelled to undertake the more unpleasant task, of extracting ore from the bowels of the earth, and of refining it by successive processes, no less unwholefome than operose. t)
The mode of exa&ing these. The mode of exacting both these fervices is the same, and is under regulations framed with a view of rendering it as little oppreflive as possible to the Indians. They are called out alternately in divisions, termed Mitas, and no person can be compelled to go but in his turn.
r) Recopil. lib. vi. tit. xiii. 1. 19. Solorz. de Ind. Jure , ii.
lib. j. c, 6, 7. 9. 5) Recopil. lib. vi. tit. xiii, 1. 8. Solorz, lib, į, 6. 7. No. 41, &c. t) See NOTE LIII.
In Peru, the number called out must not exceed the seventh part of the inhabitants in any district.a) In New Spain, where the Indians are more pumerous, it is fixed at four in the hundred. w) During what time the labour of those Indians, who are employed in agriculture, continues, I have not been able to learn. x) But in Peru , each Mita, or division, destined for the mines, remains there six months; and while engaged in this service, a labourer never receives less than two shillings a day, and often earns more than double that fum. y) No Indian, refiding at a greater diftance than thirty miles from a mine, is included in the Mita, or division employed in working it; z) nor are the inhabitants of the low country exposed to certain deftruction, by compelling them to remove from that warm climate , to the cold elevated regions where minerals abound. a)
The Indians who live in the principal towns, are entirely subject to the Spanish laws and magistrates, but in their own villages, they are governed by Caziques, some of whom are the descendants of their ancient lords, others are
u) Recopil, lib. vi. tit. xii. l. 21. w) Recopil. lib. vi. l. 22. x) See NOTE LIV. y) Ulloa Entreten, 265, 266. 2) Recopil. lib. vi. tit. xi. 1. 3. a) Ibid. 1. 29. and tit, j, 1. 13. See NOTE LV.